Fighting Against Gravity

Jocko Willink has some important words about a different kind of gravity:

When you’re working out you’re fighting against gravity. Gravity is pulling the weights down, it is pulling your body weight down, it’s preventing you from sprinting up the hill. So you’re fighting against gravity but strangely enough the gravity that usually defeats people isn’t that gravity, it’s the metaphorical gravity. The gravity that pulls you into bed and keeps you there in the morning, the gravity that pulls you into your house and prevents you from going to the gym, the gravity that stops you from starting something you want to do. That’s the gravity you have to fight!

It is a simple concept but something a lot of people miss. It is easy to see the runner, mountain climber, cyclist, body builder, and think, “It is amazing how their hard work has paid off!” Unless you are thinking about winners and losers at the edge of performance in sports luck is not something that remotely comes to mind. In other words, the abilities of these people are directly related to the hard work they have put in over a long period of time and no matter what shape you are in currently you can at least imagine the process, be it true to reality or not, that has got them to where they are.

However, what about the person with the great job, money in the bank, outstanding peer group, that is falling into opportunity everywhere? It all comes down to rich parents, out of reach education, and in most cases — simply luck or brains you don’t have — right? Wrong! As I have said before it takes a good five to ten years to become an overnight success. It is during those years when all of your time is spent fighting the metaphorical gravity keeping you from the place where you can actually see results.

The metaphor goes deeper… If you stop fighting actual gravity your muscles will quickly start to atrophy. Wait long enough and you will be starting from square zero all over again. It might take longer depending on how far you got but it will, none the less, happen over time. The same is true with metaphorical gravity. Success never releases you from the struggle. It does, however, bring reward to it that will be the ever plentiful juice keeping you going. It also means to go big you need to start small. (You cannot suddenly add fitness to a lifestyle by starting out with running marathon) Want to get to a place where the doing the impossible in your mind today is the normal of tomorrow? A good place to start is to follow this simple advice:

Do one thing every day that scares you. Baz Luhrmann — Everybody’s Free (to Wear Sunscreen)

As the days turn to weeks, the weeks turn to months, and the months turn to years, you will be surprised how thoroughly you will eventually kick metaphorical gravity’s ass.

(Originally posted on Medium)

The Problem is Facts Do Not Matter in Politics

I’m too old. I don’t have enough money. I’m not smart enough. I don’t have time. I’ve tried everything. All of these can be generally thought of as limiting beliefs. They are the excuses we hold identities so strongly to that, even when there is a way out, our attachment prevents us from moving forward. That attachment might give us significance, certainty, uncertainty, connection, or even the illusion of contribution — when we support others who believe the same — but it is not going to lead to growth. With five out of six human needs covered limiting beliefs are hard to get out of for a reason.

The problem with politics is when dealing with one of the most complex systems humanity has ever seen, any large government on the planet today, beliefs will — be they limiting or not — trump the facts nearly every time. Worse yet, we react to inconvenient truths as if they were personal insults.

Take the comment, “There are a lot of killers. You think our country’s so innocent?” The Obama administration country target count up to 2014 for bombing was Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Libya and Syria with possibly others to add as well. In 2015 the bomb drop count estimates were 22,110 for Iraq/Syria, 947 for Afghanistan, 11 for Pakistan, 58 for Yemen, 18 for Somalia — totaling 23,144 meaning about one bomb dropped for every 23 minutes of each day for the entirety of a single year. If you are a citizen of the United States how can you not think our country is a killer?

The most amazing result of this election is seeming belief that it came down to electoral votes winning over a popular vote. Meaning that, if for some reason, the other side ‘won’ then everyone would suddenly believe what they do. It is like saying there is a room of 100 people and if we can just get 51 people to agree then the other 49 people’s point of view no longer counts.

Is it a wonder that the phrase ‘deplorables’ has become a badge of honor for half of the country? As was mentioned in the Chicago Tribune:

They’re hardworking Americans, people who sent their children to our wars, people who were pushed aside by our politics, slapped down by our economy and abused by Democrats, Republicans and the very elites who formed the establishment. They were once the forgotten. But now their guy is president of the United States.

The shame for the United States is we have become split where the only way to be right is to make the other side wrong. Elon Musk would like to save the world from global warming, put us all on solar power, and establish a second home for humans in the solar system. Yet, he is being shamed for being a Trump Advisor? One of the most popular rationalizations is how can you work with Hitler? (If you study enough about it, you realize the guy vetting and banning refugees is probably not Hitler …the guy CREATING refugees probably is) Yet, when it comes to beliefs — as Scott Adams has said — Trump’s critics have evolved from expecting Trump to be Hitler to preferring it. Obviously they don’t prefer it in a conscious way. But the alternative to Trump becoming Hitler is that they have to live out the rest of their lives as confirmed morons. It is my only hope that one of his later tweets comes true:

Watch for Trump’s critics to migrate from “Trump is Hitler” to “Trump is incompetent” by summer. Later: “Competent, but I don’t like it.”

For if the prediction does not come true, why would anyone indeed want to work with Hitler or even someone who is incompetent? Right now we have two countries and are in the middle of a civil war — thankfully without bullets.


If you don’t believe we are in a civil war then I guess you are not reading this online and don’t use social media. The problem, however, with the term ‘civil war’ is that eventually one side needs to win or the country has to die. If you really want an empowering belief, make it that both sides can win this war of beliefs. There really is only one thing Trump is focused on for his legacy — American jobs. It really is that simple. Want ‘Hilter’ to go away? Want incompetence to go away? Find beliefs that lead to job creation that also achieve other goals. You might need to give up the Hitler thing and a few others to make that happen but at least there will a room with a lot more than 49 or 51 happy people in it afterward.

(Originally posted on Medium)

Excuses are not solutions

It has been about 30 years since I first used the phrase “excuses are not solutions.” I was on the phone with someone who was giving me an entire list of all the reasons why something could not be accomplished instead of offering any ideas of how to get what I needed to have done.

Fast forwarding through the years I would say the number one excuse that I have heard from people is that they are waiting for something to happen. This is, waiting for an answer, waiting for an investor, waiting for the weekend to pass, waiting for someone to come back from vacation, waiting for the right time, waiting, waiting, waiting…

If you really are waiting for something or someone it just means you have more time to plan better and create other options. In other words, waiting is just one more excuse that belongs to you and no one else. If you instead use this waiting time to make progress a must then you might be surprised how much can be accomplished when at first you thought there was nothing you could possibly do. That time in between where once you thought nothing was possible can suddenly become a zone of the greatest creativity perhaps of your entire life.

Need help? Ask for it. Be prepared. Have the plan. Show the vision. Communicate the purpose. When wisdom comes, when answers come, when money comes, take them — if you still need them —for even when it comes to money as you should never discount The Power of Broke. Not having enough money can be just as powerful in forging a creative force as is waiting for just about anything else.

Excuses are just another form of complaining and as Gary Vaynerchuk says, complaining is very unattractive…

Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, in their book Extreme Ownership, talk about the concept of Leading Up the Chain of Command. Basically all the things you can do instead of waiting for the people above you to get their head out of their ass and out of your way. Plus, as Jocko says the ultimate Jujutsu move one can make is to make your boss believe it was their idea for whatever solutions you come up with. Stop waiting, stop complaining, achieve your goals, and don’t take credit. Easy? No, but that’s ultimate separation between high performance and no performance. Besides, if, of all things, you are waiting for someone to change, realistically how long is that going to take?

(Originally posted on Medium)

Space is hard — and that’s okay

When something does not go quite right for anything to do with topic of space the common phrase that comes up is, “Space is hard.”

How hard is it? Listening to a talk by Captain Scott Kelly I heard him offer a statistic that gave me a new appreciation for the term. Out of 135 Shuttle missions there were 2 losses giving a 1 in 67 odds that you were not going to be returning safely to Earth again. Commander Kelly compared that to the D-Day invasion during World War II. Using the somewhat accepted number of 2,500 killed (4,413 is a number that seems more accurate) against the 156,000 troops the Allies landed that means 1 in 62 did not make it home to their families from that operation alone. (If you use the higher number it would be something closer to 1 in 35) Thus the bravery of space comes somewhat close to matching the horror of war — at least for the shuttle program and the D-Day invasion.

Yes, they are selected statistics and not very meaningful for comparison other than the willingness of risk, in the name of stopping further human tragedy, against the willingness of risk to further human ability. Which one would you be more willing to sign up for? Yet, which one is most supported by government action?

Stuart O. Witt, the Chief Executive Officer Mojave Air and Spaceport, talked about the unique opportunity that was reignited there. I wish I could remember his exact words but he emphasized at Mojave you have a place where you have “permission to fail.” In the case of pushing the envelope in space exploration that also means the permission to possibly get killed in process as Virgin Galactic was so unfortunate to have happen.

Permission to fail does not equate to permission to take stupid risks. It does, however, mean failure is part of the process of forging a better world ahead for all of humanity. After all, there is that joke about what is the best way to ensure you don’t die of cancer? Answer: Become a mouse. This is not to say experimentation on humans should be a free-for-all, but the pendulum has gone so far as to make it hard to be able to be in control of your own life anymore within the United States. Just as I am writing these words I saw another Medium story about legalizing innovation and the rather interesting one man’s quest to hack his own genes.

The mindset of safety above all in the modern world may have created a culture of fear in many that is big enough to avoid life. To quote a recent Survivor contestant:

“Don’t let your fear of death morph into a fear of life” (Edited slightly) — @RealDaveWright

Whether your dream is to be an astronaut or just go beyond the limits of whatever your day to day life is failure has to be part of the process. As Peter Diamandis said in his blog about reinventing how we teach our kids, “Tolerating failure is a difficult lesson to learn and a difficult lesson to teach. But it is critically important to succeeding in life.” Failure is not something that should be avoided at all costs because it is failure that ultimately makes things better for either ourselves or future generations. Maybe the risk of your life is one you are not willing to take, however — as Dave Wright is quoted above, don’t confuse that with the real risk of having no life at all.

(Originally posted on Medium)

Misleading ‘news’ is worse than fake news

20 years ago a story was written about me and the business I was running for the local paper. Nothing controversial, nothing harmful, just a piece for the ‘business’ section. Yet, from that moment on I became aware of the fact that seemingly no article written, no matter how mundane a story could be, ever gets all of the facts correct.

In this present day, I find myself either going to places I can trust, because they have already proven themselves to me, or I try to find the source material for any headline that seems remotely interesting and ignore the digested ‘news’ that someone attempted to write. Thus, when I saw this meme the first thing I thought of was, “He probably did not actually say that, or perhaps Morgan Freeman said that instead.” — which is a joke because Morgan has probably had more memes about him saying things that he did not actually say than anyone else.


To my surprise, however, Denzel did actually say this and more. I had trouble finding the original video but here is the clip with some extra commentary attached:

There has been a lot of emotion, to say the very least, on both sides of the election process for 2016. To help illustrate some of the misleading nature of ‘facts’ let’s look at a few choice points and start with a minor one…

There was a Medium story written by Daniel Ketchell on the click bait headline of a Schwarzenegger comment and drilling in deep you will find this gem in reference to Trump’s ongoing involvement with The Celebrity Apprentice, “which is amusing in its own way, since the show, besides the finale, has been wrapped for months, something no one is hiding.” Yes, people and media are worried about a conflict of interest of something that happened in the past with Trump taking on an Executive Producer role for a show that has already happened. That is like saying James Gandolfini who was dead when ‘The Night Of’ was produced should not have had a credit — ignoring the fact James created a U.K. television program called “Criminal Justice” to which the new series is based on. No, the credit was not to honor his death, it was in fact, to state that the new show would not exist without his previous contribution. The facts are: The Celebrity Apprentice is based on The Apprentice created by Mark Burnett, hosted by Trump, and first aired in 2004 — over 12 years ago. The current season of The Celebrity Apprentice is in the can and was hosted by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Trump has Executive Producer credit for the current season we have all yet to see. Beyond that, the rest of the ‘news’ is speculation on the unknowns for the future and as far as I know you cannot fact check things that have not happened yet. Is this really what news has come down to?

Moving onto bigger things, what about that hacking? CNN says, “Obama all but names Putin as behind hacking, told him to ‘cut it out’” — All but names?, what the heck does that mean? The scope of speculation on this matter has run the spectrum of foreign governments using ‘three letter’ sophisticated tools to run the hacks to someone sending out phishing attacks — meaning simply asking for someone’s password under and false pretense and someone further being stupid enough to give it out. Yet, as reported in IBD, “The FBI says there’s no evidence the Russians affected the outcome. The office of the Director of National Intelligence — which governs all 17 U.S. spy agencies — says there’s no evidence. Department of Homeland Security says there’s no evidence. Attorney General Loretta Lynch says there’s no evidence. Heck, even President Obama admits there’s no evidence that Russian hacking cost the Democrats the election.” Then again, even from the word ‘hack’, what are we talking about? Hacking the actual votes? If so, Jill Stein proved that wrong. What about ‘internal’ hacking by using voter registration fraud counting on notoriously lenient processes to register in some states? — as far as I know no one has touched on this one at all. Then there is the softer side of fake news and propaganda whether it comes from inside or out. From the perspective of the US itself trying its best to influence the rest of the world we have taught our students well. The facts are: Email was hacked. Fake news was posted. Beyond that it gets fuzzier than your average bear. On the side of US intelligence it might be useful to check if we are still searching for those WMDs in Iraq. As GSElevator says on Twitter:

If you really want to get to know someone on a 1st date, just ask about their first pet or favorite teacher. Then read all their emails.

Then what about the ‘news’ about the popular votes vs the electoral votes? Even Homer Simpson knows about statistics:

Aw, you can come up with statistics to prove anything, Kent. Forfty percent of all people know that.

Trump won the electoral majority needed to become President and Clinton won the majority of the popular vote (assuming no registration fraud was in place). Originally, I called it the left and right coasts vs the middle but is there really anything that stands out from statistical point of view? It turns out that there seems to be — in California, Clinton got 4.3 million more votes than Trump for the popular vote. How big is this? Take this one state away and Trump wins the entire country’s popular vote by a margin of 1.4 million votes. (Source IBD) The more interesting, and softer data, is more electors tried to defect from Hillary Clinton Monday than from Trump, by a count of eight to two. Further, though somewhat mute since NY went the way of Clinton, is that Bill Clinton himself is an electoral voter for that state — a state that does not legally bind the vote of the electors. Yet, no one considers this to be a conflict of interest. The facts are: It is hard to come up with a single way to tell the truth as the truth usually relies on perspective. Hard, however, does not mean impossible but running to be first is not going to be a way to get there.

On foreign policy one topic hot on a radar screen is Syria. Gary Johnson was made fun of in the media for not knowing what ‘Aleppo’ is, yet, how much do the rest of us really know? Bashar al-Assad must be a bad guy, right? After-all, those crazy Russians seem to be supporting him so anyone trying to get him out of power must be the ‘good’ guys, right? Yet, look at this chart stolen from Nassim Nicholas Taleb:


For a deeper explanation see his full breakdown also on Medium. Where are these facts when being hit with the emotional flood of news coming from the region? The facts are: Terrible things are happening in that country. Hiding the larger truth, however, is fooling us from hopes of a long term solution.

If you have seen the film ‘Spotlight’, who’s story it was based on was released to the public in 2002, it is a prime example of the opposite of what Denzel was talking about at the start this writing. There was no rush to be first. As painful as it was the only rush was the rush to be right. In a faster moving world, with more hands reaching for the dollar, this is no easy job and the unfortunate consequence seems to be needing a glossary for headline wording — you know, like in real estate: Old charmer — an old and ugly house or Stunning house — the house is not ugly.

The destruction of traditional media certainly does not help. Whatever the answers are ‘fact checkers’ and censorship (by the crowd or other means) are certainly not magical ends to a growing problem. Opinions, forecasts, and predictions which, by definition, cannot be fact checked at all will always be a problem. If you eliminate the odd man out through crowd sourcing ‘acceptable’ news then you might be eliminating the truth amongst blind men. As Naval Ravikant said on Twitter:

It’s not for any aristocracy to decide what is true and false for others. Each is human and has the right to decide for themselves.

The other edge to the vocal minority (like Andrea Bocelli not being able to perform at Trump’s inauguration)is the most intolerant wins. Wins, that is unless there is a vote — bad for censorship reasons, good for governence reasons. In this election, no matter what your opinion is on either side the majority won. In our great country the electoral system is designed to stop the most intolerant from winning and considering the backlash continuing to speak out it certainly has. Ponder these words, to which the original source might not ever be traced down, but obviously written from the view of a Trump voter:

You created “us” when you attacked our freedom of speech.
You created “us” when you attacked our right to bear arms.
You created “us” when you attacked our Christian beliefs.
You created “us” when you constantly referred to us as racists.
You created “us” when you constantly called us xenophobic.
You created “us” when you told us to get on board or get out of the way.
You created “us” when you forced us to buy health care and then financially penalized us for not participating.
You created “us” when you allowed our jobs to continue to leave our country.
You created “us” when you attacked our flag.
You created “us” when you confused women’s rights with feminism.
You created “us” when you began to emasculate men.
You created “us” when you decided to make our children soft.
You created “us” when you decided to vote for progressive ideals.
You created “us” when you attacked our way of life.
You created “us” when you decided to let our government get out of control.
“You” created “us” the silent majority.
We became fed up. We pushed back and spoke up.
And we did it with ballots, not bullets.

Argue with the details as much as you want but if you cannot relate to the general message you probably have not traveled through the heart of the country roughly referred to as the Midwest.

In large part the expanse of fake news and misleading information could be a knee jerk reaction to uncertainty. Uncertainty can make people uncomfortable and the quickest, yet most unproductive way, to get it back is to simply make the other side certainly wrong. Yet, with uncertainty comes the chance for a new, and better, beginning for all involved. To quote Gerard Senehi:

Uncertainty is where we can find the greatest peace. It means that the future is unknown, and whatever fears we have about the time ahead, there is infinite space for something entirely different to happen.

Be an agent that helps build a bridge rather than yelling at people on the other side of the water. Find a way to understand rather than rushing to be first. Question the truth, or opinion, of news — especially if it supports your point of view.

(Originally posted on Medium)